Abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth’
Manipulated Lives is a collection of short stories published by Helene Leuschel in June 2016.
Each story is told from different viewpoints and each with a completely separate set of characters, yet all knit together with one common thread ~ Manipulation.
Please read on for my thoughts…..
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere.
At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
I was very lucky to have Helene join me last year with a wonderful guest post entitled:
Helene wrote about the nature and nurture debate and what it is like to actually BE someone.
‘Fiction in my view is the perfect outlet for anyone to imagine what it is like to be someone else or reflect on why it is important to try, explore the ways and reasons for decision-making and that the nature/nurture debate remains an immensely fascinating puzzle for the human mind.’
With that in mind, Helene put her thoughts to paper and focused on how people can be so easily manipulated by others in her debut novel Manipulated Minds.
There are five short stories:
Tess and Tattoos
My Perfect Child
Each story deals with an individual’s need to control, the need for power, the need for superiority.
‘It is hard to stand on top of an unshakable fortress, but that’s, after all, where I belong.‘
What’s very interesting throughout Manipulated Lives is that there is no particular strata of society affected. One can be the victim of a manipulator, no matter what your background or age.
‘Some of the most intelligent narcissists and manipulators are those leading big multinationals, governments, and yes criminal organisations. It is useless trying to reach through the labyrinth of their minds, when their ability to sympathize with others is lacking’
A great quote from the first story The Narcissist. In this story we see a man on his death bed looking back over his years of power and control. Is he looking for forgiveness? Does he care?
‘Statistically 75% of abusive manipulators tend to be men, who are fixated on money and power, whereas the women mainly seek to prove their superiority’
In Tess and Tattoos, we get to look again at someone at the latter stages of life who has regrets. Decisions were made which came at a price but was it worth it?
‘A narcissistic pervert with psychopathic tendencies’
The Spell introduces us to Sophie who unwittingly becomes entangled in the lives of a young boy and his father, both running from something or someone…
‘She only had herself to blame.’
A typical thought of a victim of a manipulator but in Runaway Girl, the tragedy is the age of the victim. A young girl trying to discover herself and make a path through the complexities of the teenage years.
‘There has never been a perfect child; never. And I only realise it fully now.’
A parent has to face up to the reality of their offspring in My Perfect Child. As a parent, is it really okay to wear blinkers and convince yourself of your child’s actions as just immature behaviour, teenage pranks? Is it possible there is no such thing as the perfect child?
Of the five stories, for me, Tess and Tattoos would be my personal favourite. There was something very elegant about Tess and there is the most beautiful visual with wonderful imagery that shows up the lovely style to Helene Leuschel’s writing.
There is a wonderful fact about a collection like this. Everyone can have a favourite, everyone can choose one (or more!!) to return to and possibly extract more from the story.
I will admit to not being familiar with The Short Story as a genre but in Manipulated Lives I can see how it introduces the reader to different aspects of the writer’s style and also the simplicity of reading a full story on a tea break!!!
In Manipulated Lives Helene Leuschel has brought together all these stories leaving one big question in the readers mind….Are you a manipulator? Wittingly or unwittingly have you attempted to control someone?
Interesting questions raised in an interesting anthology of stories. Pick up a copy yourself using the link below
Purchase Link : Manipulated Minds
I for one am looking forward to what Helene Leuschel writes next. What depths of the human mind will we, as readers, be taken to…??
Meet the Author:
Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh.
Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.